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D&D 5E Cloak of Elvenkind - Advantage to Stealth AND -5 to passive perception?

Stalker0

Legend
I saw some 5 year old threads on this topic but it was a bit unclear then, and was curious what people's thoughts on this now are.

The Cloak of Elvenkind provides:

1) Advantage on Stealth Checks. Straightforward, no issue here.
2) Wisdom (Perception) checks made to see you have disadvantage

Its number 2 that I am questioning. Is the intention that this applies to all uses of perception (aka the standard passive perception used to counter stealth). Or does the "checks made to see you" clause mean it only applies to people using an action to actively look for a hidden character?
 

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I saw some 5 year old threads on this topic but it was a bit unclear then, and was curious what people's thoughts on this now are.

The Cloak of Elvenkind provides:

1) Advantage on Stealth Checks. Straightforward, no issue here.
2) Wisdom (Perception) checks made to see you have disadvantage

Its number 2 that I am questioning. Is the intention that this applies to all uses of perception (aka the standard passive perception used to counter stealth). Or does the "checks made to see you" clause mean it only applies to people using an action to actively look for a hidden character?
We've always run it that it was disadvantage on perception checks to notice someone. If using passive perception, use a -5.

It's a little funky though because technically it only helps with checks that rely on sight even if the text does not say that.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I saw some 5 year old threads on this topic but it was a bit unclear then, and was curious what people's thoughts on this now are.

The Cloak of Elvenkind provides:

1) Advantage on Stealth Checks. Straightforward, no issue here.
2) Wisdom (Perception) checks made to see you have disadvantage

Its number 2 that I am questioning. Is the intention that this applies to all uses of perception (aka the standard passive perception used to counter stealth). Or does the "checks made to see you" clause mean it only applies to people using an action to actively look for a hidden character?
Though the mechanic is poorly named, a “passive check” is still a form of check, which must be made. Anything that applies to “checks made to X” also applies to passive checks made to X.
 


toucanbuzz

Legend
PHB page 175: "A passive check is a special kind of ability check" that obviously rolls no dice. There's nothing that says it cannot be affected by modifiers and as others stated the section notes that to calculate "advantage" add 5 and "disadvantage" subtract 5. The Search action would contemplate an actual die roll, though as a DM I often request a roll in high-stress situations.
 



iserith

Magic Wordsmith
An interesting thing I had only realized, I'd say within the past year, is that your Perception check can never be lower than your passive Perception score. Makes sense.
That's true in combat when using the Search action to find a hidden creature. In other situations, that is not the case.
 

Rabulias

Hero
That's true in combat when using the Search action to find a hidden creature. In other situations, that is not the case.
According to Jeremy Crawford, a character's Passive Perception is a floor for their Perception.

Jeremy Crawford:

So if you make an active perception check and you get a number that's lower than your passive perception, all that means is that you did a lousy job of this particular active search, but your passive perception is still active. You're still going to notice something that "blips" onto your passive perception radar. Really, when you make that roll, you're really rolling to see "can I get a higher number?" If you fail to, well, again, your passive perception score is still active. It is effectively creating that minimum.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
According to Jeremy Crawford, a character's Passive Perception is a floor for their Perception.
From the guy who brought us multiple shield master rulings that contradict each other and all sorts of other stuff one couldn't possibly derive from a plain reading of the rules including this. Hard pass.

Edit: The podcast you're quoting by the way is discussing this in the context of a creature hiding from another creature who is situationally aware, particularly as it relates to combat. It doesn't apply to other situations involving a Wisdom (Perception) check or passive check.
 
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toucanbuzz

Legend
Hmmm, I can't imagine a character is 100% always "aware." There's tons of real-life things to distract us all the time. Itch on your nose, bowel trouble from fajita night, your comrade's shapely thighs, the random tumble of falling scree, and so on. Here's the audio link (at 23:20, Crawford pulls this "floor" business out of his...). That aside, we've leaped off the OP topic.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
I saw some 5 year old threads on this topic but it was a bit unclear then, and was curious what people's thoughts on this now are.

The Cloak of Elvenkind provides:

1) Advantage on Stealth Checks. Straightforward, no issue here.
2) Wisdom (Perception) checks made to see you have disadvantage

Its number 2 that I am questioning. Is the intention that this applies to all uses of perception (aka the standard passive perception used to counter stealth). Or does the "checks made to see you" clause mean it only applies to people using an action to actively look for a hidden character?
hidden means unseen and unheard.

1) So advantage on all stealth checks, this is roughly the same as boots of elvenkind.

2) this applies if you are in a an area that the enemy can use his sight. If you are behind a bush or you are invisible this applies, in that case he has disadvantage to find you. If you are hiding in darkness or behind a wall or in an area he can't see or if he does not use sight then you dont.

For point 2, the most interesting case is you are hiding behind a tapestry. Technically he can use sight - a bulge in the tapestry, you acidentally hit is with your hand and it moves. RAW he has disadvantage on this even though logically it should not matter. I would rule - well magic!

3. I buff this magic item. Although it does not say it in my games I allow someone to take the hide action with cloak of elvenkind even if only partially obscured as long as they do not move after they take the hide action. This is an atunement item so I don't think this is OP. They also need to be partially obscured to do it. There is some metagaiming possible with this. A Rogue could melee attack while in dim light and then take the hide BA immediately after while right next to the guy he attacked.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Hmmm, I can't imagine a character is 100% always "aware." There's tons of real-life things to distract us all the time. Itch on your nose, bowel trouble from fajita night, your comrade's shapely thighs, the random tumble of falling scree, and so on. Here's the audio link (at 23:20, Crawford pulls this "floor" business out of his...). That aside, we've leaped off the OP topic.
The rules say that in combat most creatures stay alert for signs of danger all around, though the DM can say that some creatures are distracted for whatever reason. Outside of combat, there are rules such as for traveling (for minutes, hours, or days) in which if you're performing certain tasks, then you can't stay alert for signs of danger and your passive Perception does not apply. So it simply can't be that passive Perception is "always on." That doesn't even make sense in the context of passive checks.

Where it does make sense is in combat where one creature is hiding from another creature that is alert for signs of danger all around. The passive Perception is effectively the floor because, if the creature is hidden from you given what your passive Perception score is, then a Search action roll that is less than the passive Perception is irrelevant since the creature is still hidden from you. It doesn't become more hidden from you.

The issue is that people took what he said and just ran with it, applying it everywhere including for other ability checks and skill proficiencies.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
The rules say that in combat most creatures stay alert for signs of danger all around, though the DM can say that some creatures are distracted for whatever reason. Outside of combat, there are rules such as for traveling (for minutes, hours, or days) in which if you're performing certain tasks, then you can't stay alert for signs of danger and your passive Perception does not apply. So it simply can't be that passive Perception is "always on." That doesn't even make sense in the context of passive checks.

Where it does make sense is in combat where one creature is hiding from another creature that is alert for signs of danger all around. The passive Perception is effectively the floor because, if the creature is hidden from you given what your passive Perception score is, then a Search action roll that is less than the passive Perception is irrelevant since the creature is still hidden from you. It doesn't become more hidden from you.
For the combat example here is the way I run it as a DM - explain how you are going to remain unseen. If the explanation is really good I will let the attack go. It is amazing the creativity players will use when presented with that scenario. Depending on what they say I will say "no you are seen", "you get advantage" or "I will let you roll another stealth check, if you succeed you have advantage"

As far as out of combat, passive perception is always on but you do not need to be obscured to make use of hide. If you are trying to be stealthy your stealth is compared to the enemies passive perception and the enemy is compared to yours. That strongly implies always on. The difference here is you do not need to be obscured, you can't stay alert for danger and that is why it is possible to sneak up on someone even though you are visible. Depending on the conditions the DM might apply advantage or disadvantage or a modifier to the roll, but in general it is far easier to be go unnoticed out of combat than in combat and this is reflective of days, hours etc.

Regarding search that is an action and does not use passive perception, the person using search rolls active perception. If he rolls less than the stealth check you are right, he is not "more hidden". In this respect it is a wasted action, like an attack that misses. But if he rolls higher than passive perception (typically 10) then you could be found.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
PHB page 175: "A passive check is a special kind of ability check" that obviously rolls no dice. There's nothing that says it cannot be affected by modifiers and as others stated the section notes that to calculate "advantage" add 5 and "disadvantage" subtract 5. The Search action would contemplate an actual die roll, though as a DM I often request a roll in high-stress situations.
This also implies that even passive perception is subject to DM's decision whether to grant the check in the first place.
 

Wisdom (Perception) checks made to see you have disadvantage.

Only checks made to SEE you. Such perception checks are quite rare.

If you're invisible or hiding behind total cover (or in total obscurement) there is no disadvantage.

Of course if you cant be seen (you're invisible), all checks to SEE you automatically fail anyway.

As a general rule, the disadvantage to Perception checks from the Cloak do not apply to Perception checks to locate a Hidden creature made via the Search action (because those checks represent the searcher looking, listening, touching, seeing signs of your movement such a footprints etc).

and you have advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks made to hide,

That always applies regardless.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
According to Jeremy Crawford, a character's Passive Perception is a floor for their Perception.
That is one of his most notoriously bad rulings. Like, I’ll grant that he thinks that’s how the rule should be applied, and maybe it really was the intent when the rule was written (though I very much doubt it). But at the end of the day it’s one guy’s opinion, and I don’t think it holds up well against a critical reading of the rules as written, nor does it produce gameplay outcomes I would find desirable.
 

Definitely. It not only cancels out the penalty to stealth from heavy armor, but ALSO gives others disadvantage to detect you. So it's great on someone with heavy armor.
Not really.

It only imposes disadvantage on perception checks to see you. Not to detect you.

Most perception checks don't fall into that category (they are checks that rely on different, or multiple senses, or rely on noticing signs of your passage, and not specifically 'you').

Perception is Spot, Listen (and Taste, Touch, Smell, Notice etc) all rolled into one skill.

Very few perception checks are solely visually based, and most dont depend on you being able to see your target at all.

Much like how magic boots that grant Advantage on Athletics checks to Jump dont also give that same advantage to checks made to swim or climb.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Only checks made to SEE you. Such perception checks are quite rare.

If you're invisible or hiding behind total cover (or in total obscurement) there is no disadvantage.

Of course if you cant be seen (you're invisible), all checks to SEE you automatically fail anyway.

As a general rule, the disadvantage to Perception checks from the Cloak do not apply to Perception checks to locate a Hidden creature made via the Search action (because those checks represent the searcher looking, listening, touching, seeing signs of your movement such a footprints etc).
Ooh, good observation!
 

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